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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Finding a great DP... you can't afford not to.

This is the stage of the game where I should probably have a DP by now. But I've surprisingly been in no rush. I don't know why... I'm not a very patient person. However, I think the magnitude of what that person means has been sprinkled upon me over the last several months, as the heavy duty responsibilities weigh in on how important that person is to the film. To me, a DP is my wonderful right hand person. I think it's important for us first time feature filmmakers/directors to have someone that just gets us and understands our position. I don't claim to be simple - I'm a woman. I carry all of the complexities of such, and I'm extremely passionate - I'll soak you all up. But I don't do drama, and I'm not opposed to bringing sage and chocolate on set if my mental sanity relies on it. I need someone to really guide me through this intricate, delicate, beautiful process without displaying ego or making things complicated. I need someone to respect my vision, regardless of my experience (or lack of) and add to it - hell, make it better! Do these emotions feel familiar to you? I don't think that's asking too much. I expect them to ask no less of me.

So my line producer, Michelle, introduced me to her fabulous crew from Dallas whom she's worked with on many occasions. These guys are interchangeable. Wonderful. Would be a lovely compliment/asset to any film. These are people who aren't jaded by titles, but who are more concerned with putting forth a collaborated effort to make the best picture possible. How f'ing cool.

I've met a few other DP's along the way, and have had one in mind for quite some time. But, a project I worked on recently changed my mind about this particular person for me. What does that mean? It just means that this person is not a perfect fit for ME in terms of longevity and I'm OK with that truth.

If there's one thing I would recommend to you first time film peeps - WORK WITH YOUR DP BEFORE YOU HIRE. If you can't collaborate on a short film, then do test shots... try different cameras with your potential DP to 'see the difference,' but point being - do something before you invest a chunk of your life with this person. It's a marriage. To the contrary of what some may believe, it's not a couple months! It's more like years of your life (off and on) which you'll be communicating with this person.

This really goes for everyone you work with. I've made it a mission of mine to only work with people that I feel really GOOD about. It's a mutual exchange, and it's either there or it's not. I want to be around people I LOVE and RESPECT! It's like buying a shirt you think is kinda OK and you will probably wear because it's a good deal. You end up never wearing it and giving it to Good Will. The good news is - you got to give something to Good Will. Bottom line: Buy the shirt you love - even if it's expensive. Not because you're rich but because you're smart - and subscribing to what you love is always more cost effective. You can't afford not to.

In pre-production, you have story boards, you have test shots, you have talk-talk-talk about tone, vision, direction, lighting, set-ups, locations, etc., and in post you may have tours for a year, etc. It doesn't begin and end with production. Think about it.

Peace & Love. Jentri

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